View Full Version : buy existing facilities or build your own?

Feb. 6, 2010, 09:45 AM
Would you prefer to buy a nice place that works fine for you from the start, or buy a house with land and build your own according to your specifications, over the course of, say, a year or two? Why?

Feb. 6, 2010, 10:06 AM
I would like to buy a nice plot of land and build to suit. This is partially due to my fiance's aversion to to much rehab work and partially because it is much cheaper in the long run.

Most farmhouses in the area are larger, 4 bedroom, 4 bath and I will never need that much. They are also older (a century) and will likely need insulation (My house is 60 years old and insulation was optional even then), updated wiring, plumbing work, etc. I also tend to not like the layout and closed spaces of farmhouses - I am an open layout kind of person.

A lot of them do not have a barn on them anyway, so I would have to build that.

With buying a lot and building on my own, I get exactly what I want, how I want with all the energy efficiency that I want.

Feb. 6, 2010, 10:10 AM
I bought two existing farms before building the current
one. It is perfect, so now it is for sale ;)
I designed it to be easy - turnout, manure, bedding all
within reasonable distance. Good drainage, enough turnout

email me if you are looking in Massachusetts

Zu Zu
Feb. 6, 2010, 10:18 AM
I would rather buy and and make some additions - building is a PITA as far as I am concerned - whether repairing ~ remodeling ~ rehabbing or adding - have rehabbed old barns, remodeled new barns and had run-in shed and indoor build -- at two diffrent locations - '03 and '06 & '09 - all PITA with workers ~ companies and IMHO - find as close to what you need and then make additions before moving in and be done with it !:D GOOD LUCK !

Feb. 6, 2010, 10:40 AM
I'd rather buy a piece of land and build from there.

Anything around here considered "Horse property" adds on at least 100K. :eek:

Feb. 6, 2010, 10:51 AM
In an ideal world, I would build to suit.

However, trying to get a contractor to do some large building projects around here is like winning a lottery. I may never get my machine shed or my indoor.

At least if you buy something ready made, if its less than 10 years old it won't need much repair and its all there...

Feb. 6, 2010, 11:52 AM
We bought property with a house we love and a barn we were able to make work. It was much more cost effective to have my barn refitted for horses then to build a brand new barn.

In an ideal world with unlimited funds I would love to have bought a blank slate property and built everything how I wanted. This is the real world however and I am still very happy with what I have :)

Feb. 6, 2010, 11:55 AM
We looked at both and bought open farm land. Most of what was in our budget needed work or wasn't suitable for a breeding operation. If I had the money I would buy walk-in ready. But even buying a blank slate, budget meant some things had to wait (like our wash stall or ring footing).

Feb. 6, 2010, 12:36 PM
We bought open land, intending to build the house and barns. While we were building the barn, the property next door became available. It was 5 more acres and a cute house, so we bought that too. My daughter and her family moved into it, all the while intending to build their dream house when all the outbuildings were done. Turns out that the perfect site was the cute little house, so they moved in with us, tore down the house and built over the course of the next year. We got the exact barn we wanted and they got the exact house they wanted--win-win all around!

Feb. 6, 2010, 12:37 PM
We are actually in the midst of this right now and we are leaning towards building. We have looked at many places but most homes are not energy efficient. In the future that will be very important. We have our plans done to build a net zero house and farm using solar pv, solar thermal and possibly a wind turbine or two. Having very small or no energy bills are our goal.
Although its probably harder in the long run I hope it will be worth it. If nothing else it will be a great learning experience.

Feb. 6, 2010, 02:11 PM
I bought raw land three years ago and am developing it into a horse property myself. Sat on it and studied drainage and light for four seasons. Built a barn, put in a mile plus of fencing, driveways, hay shed and moved horses in 9 months ago. Currently in the process of building a house. Hopefully will have a ring by next year.

I've enjoyed the whole process and really love what I've done. I hope to live here until they take me out in a box.

Feb. 6, 2010, 02:55 PM
I bought a place with an existing barn, which I thought I could make work. After I had a contractor look at it closely, it seemed to me I would be throwing good money after bad, as the saying goes. I ended up having the barn taken down, the land re-graded for better drainage, and a new barn put up in its place.

I wish it wouldn't have been necessary, but I realize in hindsight that the re-grading alone made all the difference. Even if the barn had been okay, the lack of proper drainage would have been miserable every winter.

I love the way it turned out, and I got a good deal on the original purchase of the property, so it wasn't that painful, and I got exactly what I wanted in the end instead of just making do.

Feb. 6, 2010, 03:13 PM
I also depends on where you are. Land is at a premium in some areas (like Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, NJ) and if there's a large acreage available, there's likely something wrong with it. In this area, better to buy and modify... Here, the cost of the land would be your major expense. Builders estimate the cost of the home at three times the cost of the land... Plus financing construction is really, really, hard these days.

Feb. 6, 2010, 03:29 PM
If you can find something adequate already built, it will definitely be cheaper than building from scratch, any time.

If you can't, then, well, then of course you will just have to pay more to build what you want.

I think the situation and what you find will determine what is best.:yes:

Feb. 6, 2010, 03:36 PM
In the current housing market, it would be smarter to look at existing farms and change (within reason) what you do not like. Prices are down so low, you could not build the same farm today for the listing price. It's cheaper to buy, then to build in todays market.

Ridge Runner
Feb. 6, 2010, 04:03 PM
We've done both now and while building your own takes more time, ultimately you get what you want. We build our first little farm, both house and barn back in NC and that house was US...we miss it so much.

Now, we are living on a farm that we bought that someone else built. It has been a long road of fixing things, changing things, and now remodeling the duplex that was here to a house for one family.

If we ever do it again, we'd much rather build it ourselves. There sure may be the perfect place out there waiting for me but I think it's an outside chance!

Feb. 6, 2010, 04:13 PM
For us it was cheaper to find a fixer upper. Building from scratch is outrageously expensive here. We got more land and spent very little fixing the place up. (compared to what it would have cost to build from scratch). This place was a working farm - but had fallen into disuse due to the original owner's age and infirmities. We tore down two buildings and need to tear down one more building.

But that option won't work for folks who don't have the skills, energy or desire to do that. Especially if the person works long hours or has other commitments.

Feb. 6, 2010, 05:22 PM
sparky that's great! i agree that an already built place is cheapest, and if i get really lucky i'll find somewhere with a teardown so i can use the existing well and septic, power and driveway--and then build my green-dream home and barn.

Feb. 6, 2010, 06:07 PM
No way could we afford to buy and build from scratch! Ours is our first house so we were on a smaller budget, but it was sure an experience all right... We ended up with 4.5 acres for our "farmette" with a wonderful house that just needed cosmetics (and really nothing was wrong... just changing to our own tastes). We went out a little farther in the country and found a wonderful stone house and flat land, but no horse facilities. We were (or are in the process I should say) building a small barn and fencing. We'll hopefully add on as we can. If we can't get more land one day we'll move and we've decided unless our wallets are fairly bottomless at the time would not even want to build a barn from scratch again! The only way we would build from scratch is if we had the budget to just say "I want this this and this. Just make it happen and I'll show up and move in when it's all done." lol. I would have much rather had even a shell of a pole barn here to finish out or remodel to our liking. I know we completely underestimated the difficulty and TIME of building a small barn and fencing on a budget.

Feb. 6, 2010, 07:01 PM
My plan, (one of these days) is to buy a house with land and build the horse facilities of my dreams. I'd rather build from scratch and get what I want from the beginning. :)

Feb. 6, 2010, 08:27 PM
We purchased a piece of land that had a home and a barn on it (look at webshots dphillipscma)

The place was 5 acres, had an old doublewide and a barn, well, a barn shell, it was cleared and planted and ready to go.

We gave away the trailer and put a modular on and are upfitting the barn. The barn is made of scavenged construction materials, so the biggest issue we are facing is that the wood used is different sizes, so some things are not square, the loft is kind of low for horses to be in the isle if they are very tall.

If you are looking at price, well, what we have done is still less than building from scratch.

Property purchase was 79k, after our down payment and the new 1900 sqft modular we financed a total of 115k.

The fencing for 3 pastures for the hot tape and all you need to put it on wood posts was about 1,300

stall skins for the stalls about 450

the most we have spent was on wood for the stalls, tack room, fence posts, round pen, ring, tin for the roof, and lighting fixtures for the barn, it was about 20k (we did choose to use 2x12 wood on the stalls, but could have saved $$ by using smaller wood) for the stall fronts where the bars usually are we used horse panel from tractor supply and got stall gates for the doors because the hardware for sliding doors is so expensive.

it was about 800 for the barn roof to be put on.

If we had to do this from scratch it would be much more, clearing and planting pasture is not cheap in our area, and we saved money since there was already a well, spetic in place.

We are about done with the barn and for completing it on a budget it is nice. My husband has completed all the work and I just dont see how we could have done this without the existing basic structure.

I would not hesitate to find something pre-existing. We got lucky as we found our place on a forclosure website, thus the good deal

Feb. 8, 2010, 12:07 AM
I did a little of both.

Found 5ac with a 70s vintage house that needed only cosmetic rehab & was sized right for me (2BR, 2BA upstairs + in-law apt in the basement). It even had the open floor plan kitchen I was used to.

Acreage was nearly perfectly flat, leased to a farmer and planted in soybeans when I first saw it.
My budget at the time allowed me to build a small barn w/attached indoor.

Places I looked at w/existing barns needed too much repair or reworking.
And the houses were disasters.

I got a great referral for a local builder that specialized in barns.
The salesman agreed with most of the ideas I had sketched out and offered good suggestions.
He met me at the County Bldg and walked me around to apply for the variances I needed and to get the info re: permits.
He even offered to come with me to the zoning hearing.
My barn/indoor went up in 3 weeks from the day the excavator finished his work.
Nearly 6 years later I have zero complaints with the construction and the barn has worked perfectly for me.

You can see my place in the Jan/Feb issue of COTH article on building your farm.
(Thanks to Molly Sorge!)

Movin Artfully
Feb. 8, 2010, 10:51 AM
Agree with the current market- best to buy what existing there is and upgrade/replace what you want. My husband and I are making this decision right now...and it seems much better to buy the house/acreage you want and build the barn/fencing you want. Some of the elaborate/poorly thought out fencing set ups at places we have looked at have really left us scratching our heads :confused:

Feb. 8, 2010, 12:51 PM
If you can find something adequate already built, it will definitely be cheaper than building from scratch, any time.

In my farm search, I had so many people tell me that it was cheaper to build than to buy and remodel. After seriously doing the math on what it would cost to build something, I can say that in my are, what Bluey says above is absolutely true. Building is NOT necessarily cheaper, and financing more than just house construction can be awfully difficult unless you're sitting on a huge pile of cash and equity. Since I wasn't, we shopped for something already built that we could add to or modify as necessary. Hopefully, we'll close this week. But with the snow...:confused:

Feb. 8, 2010, 11:42 PM
Did this three times. First time, bought raw acreage, put up the barn, fencing and outdoor arena we wanted, and put a gorgeous triple-wide manufactured home on it.

Second time, bought nice sized acreage with a (tiny, old) house on it, built all the barns, added to the existing perimeter fencing and put in a very large, lighted, all weather arena.

Third time, bought fully fenced acreage with barn that needed updating, and a very nice house.

We spent far, far more on the last option than the first two put together. IME, buy the land you want, and build what you want. IF I were ever to do it again, that'd be my choice.